Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
First Person Shooters (Games)

Journal: Marshie Attacks - Halloween Project 3

Journal by John Harrison
If you came to my house for Halloween this year the first thing you noticed was 18 inch tall green vampire marshmallows moving around on a 8 foot tall screen hung from the garage door. The next thing you noticed was that a laser assault rifle was placed into your hands and you were commanded to kill Marshie for candy. Ok, by laser assault rifle I mean a laser pointer put into a bunch of PVC, but it looked pretty cool. When a dot appeared on the screen it was detected by my iSight camera and Marshie exploded. If you're interested there are more details including a movie posted here.
Democrats

Journal: Pete Ashdown, geek candidate, needs your help

Journal by John Harrison
Senator Barbara Boxer is giving away free money to candidates that are challenging incumbents. The catch is that you have to vote for who you want the money to go to. Pete Ashdown is not only running to unseat Senator Hatch (enemy of geeks everywhere) but is tech savvy himself, given that he is the founder of Utah's oldest ISP. His positions on tech issues should be of interest to many a slashdotter. So if you have a moment, click on the link below and vote for him to get some free money.

Vote for Pete Ashdown.

Censorship

Journal: CleanFlicks should be championed by /. 5

Journal by John Harrison
User Journal

Journal: Abuse of moderation

Journal by jgardn

Take a look at these posts:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=171402&cid=14275722
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=171402&cid=14275536
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=171402&cid=14275425

User Journal

Journal: WalMart and the illusion of low prices 7

Journal by John Harrison

I have now entered WalMart three times in my life.

Before I go on I should mention that I really don't have time to be shopping today. I am moving today and tomorrow. I have other things to do.

Yet I was a WalMart today at 4:10 am. The prospect of a $378 laptop was too much to resist. There were about a hundred people in line in front of me. Assuming that they didn't all want a laptop I figured that I would be ok.

Wrong.

First, the line got mysteriously thicker as time went on. There were easily 300 people in front of me when the doors opened at 5:00 am. This does not include the people that stood in the parking lot and simply sprinted at the door when it opened. What kind of jerk do you have to be to do that?

Second, they put the laptops in the grocery area. At least this is what I was told. I never saw a laptop box. I went to the electronics area which was a mob scene but lacked laptops for some reason. According to a helpful WalMart employee, the laptops were gone from the grocery area before I got into the store anyhow.

Now if you claim to be selling a sub-$400 laptop but can't/won't sell anywhere near as many as people want then you really aren't selling such laptops. You are simply claiming to. Maybe if they offered rainchecks I would believe them, but they don't and thus I am convinced that it is a scam. Classic bait and switch.

I walked out of WalMart at 5:10 am vowing to never return. Unless they will give me a raincheck, which isn't going to happen.

Music

Journal: iTunes Vizualiztion - First Draft - Mac Only! 2

Journal by John Harrison
So I found the Apple iTunes developer stuff. Contrary to what I remembered it is free to download the API for iTunes. While they give you working code, it is pretty ugly as far as being a visualization. I have hacked it a bit to get a feel for it and have re-implemented the effect that I created way back when by rewiring an Apple // monitor and running my the wires to my stereo speakers through the coils.

So if you have a Mac you can see it. This similar to the WinAmp viz I posted before, but this version is much better. It scales properly and is green on black. Grab it here:
http//www.angelfire.com/games4/anirak/iTunesX_Visualizer.bundle.zip

As usual, unzip the file and place it in the user/Library/iTunes/iTunes Plug-ins/ directory.

If the direct link doesn't work, there is a link in the "links" section towards the bottom of this page

As I put more effort into this I will probably make a page for it, maybe on a .mac account. We'll see what happens.

Edit: corrected second link. It is probably the one to use.

Desktops (Apple)

Journal: Mac mini first impressions 5

Journal by John Harrison
After much hassle with FedEx the Mac mini showed up yesterday. The box it comes in is smaller than any desktop I've seen other than the Cappuchino that I never use.

I plugged everything in and it worked as expected. I began to see the beach ball quite a bit though when multi-tasking, so I decided to go ahead and buy a gig of ram for it.

Luckily, MicroCenter is about a 10 minute walk and a 4 minute drive away. I grabbed the ad at the door and saw that they had a gig of PC3200 for $139. This was a steal. When I finally found it though I was upset. It was a "kit", which wasn't mentioned in the ad. This means that it was actually two 512MB sticks. Only one slot in the mini, so I got a gig stick of PC3200 for $199. The mini takes PC2700, but I've seen rumours that it doesn't take all PC2700. Plus, the PC3200 was cheaper.

I then went to the hardware store since I don't have any puddy knives. They had one type that was thinner and a second type that was thicker but had a sharpened edge. I bought two of the thinner ones, since my experiements with a razor knife had shown me that it wasn't easy to get anything in the edge. Maybe the sharpened ones would have worked better, but they were pretty thick. Anyhow it is not easy to open the thing. It took me over 15 minutes, and I can't say that I didn't leave some little marks. I don't think anyone would notice, but I did. Having two knives made it easier, but once you get one in one side it is hard to get anything in the other side.

I finally got it open and popped the memory and put the new stick in. It works fine.

My first project is going to be writing an OpenGL based music visualization program with a twist. It will actually make a movie out of the visualization that can be written to a DVD. Also, it won't suck the way many visualization programs do. It will actaully react to the music rather than spraying color on the screen for no apparent reason.

Oh, I forgot to mention. No iWork. For some reason I thought it was included, but it has AppleWorks instead. Too bad. I was looking forward to trying out Keynote.

Editorial

Journal: Must vent about FedEx... 9

Journal by John Harrison
This has been mentioned by others. It has happened to me before. Yet I will complain anew!

FedEx was supposed to drop off my Mac mini today. Instead they left a note on the door. No ringing of the doorbell mind you, just a note on the door. I was home, waiting for it. Why can't they ring the bell? Is it that hard? I called less than ten minutes after the note was left and asked them to come back. They said they would. They never did.

There is now a big note on the door with an arrow pointing at the doorbell.

OS X

Journal: Back to the Mac 18

Journal by John Harrison
I have only bought two computers myself. I certainly didn't have the cash to buy the Commodore 64 that my dad brought home when I was in 3rd grade. This is a bit strange, given that I am one of the bigger "computer nerds" that I know. I have a CS degree and I work for big blue. Anyhow, back to the story.

I bought an Apple Performa 614 in college. This was because I was sick of going to the CS lab to do assignments. I wanted to program in my dorm room. Of course it took about 45 minutes to compile anything with only 8 megs of RAM, so I went to Fry's and bought a 16 MB stick, to bring me up to a total of 24 MB. No more thrashing, compiles took mere moments. That computer stayed with me through college and then I gave it to my brother so that he could use it in college, since it already had the software he needed. Even though the Performa line is looked upon now as the dark days of the Mac, I look back on it fondly. They might have been coasting on inertia then, but the foundation of quality that had been laid before carried through, at least in my mind.

I then defected from the Mac camp and bought parts to build my own Celeron 300, which I occasionally overclocked to a magnificent 500 MHz. Why did I defect? Well, mostly because I could cheaply put together a machine that had a 3D card. This would make it easier to improve my 3D asteroids game.

That computer is still running, but doesn't see much use. I get a new laptop from work every few years which has killed my need to buy a fancy machine of my own. Of course I occasionally have wanted to go back to the Mac camp, at least for personal use, but I never had a good excuse, and I while I've had the money to buy one if I wanted, I was never quite able to justify it.

Why am I writing this? Because I just ordered my third computer, a mini Mac. The price is too good to ignore, and I admit that the design impresses me. They lowered the price to the level of impulse buy and they hooked me. Now I just have to find a cheap 1 gig stick of RAM somewhere...

Republicans

Journal: How to balance the budget and pay off the debt

Journal by jgardn

This is a very easy plan on how to pay off the national debt and balance the budget. It is quite easy to grasp.

Let's say you borrow $100 from a friend. He asks you to pay back $15 over the next 10 years. At the end of the ten years, your debt will be paid off. If you only make enough money to handle all of your expenses, plus sum to pay off the money your owe on your debt, then after ten years, the debt will be paid. Simple, huh?

All we need to do as a nation is make sure we are making our debt payments. After only 10 years of doing so, the debt will be gone. This is because the money is borrowed with T-bills that expire after 10 years. We don't need extra money to pay off the debt.

Now let's talk about making sure that the money coming in is the same as the money going out - in other words, the deficit.

Our economy is constantly expanding. That means our tax base (the amount of money we can tax from) is increasing over time. We will be able to raise more money in the future with the same tax rate today.

If we can do something to make the tax base expand faster, then we can get more tax revenue in the future. Think of it this way: If I spend $10 today, with the expectation that I will get $50 next year, is that a good investment? Of course! I will gladly borrow money if I have to to put that $10 in.

Whenever we do the following things, the economy expands. These are all things that the Bush agenda stands for.

* lowering taxes on the rich. See, the rich are rich because they know what to do with their money. They make money with money. The poor doesn't have money because they can't make money with money. If we allow the rich to retain more of their own money, they will make even more money, *increasing the tax base*!

* Reducing regulations. Regulations are generally good in that they accomplish good things. Take the clean air act. I mean, clean air is good, right? But regulations cost money to the tax base. Someone has to do something to comply, and it usually means that they have to do something more than what they are doing. We need to balance the benefit of regulation with the cost of regulation. Some things are hard to put a price on - clean air, for instance. But we must know how much we are going to spend for it, and balance that out.

* Eliminating corporate subsidies and welfare. By giving government money to the poor (both corporations and people), we are funding projects that don't have a negative ROI. In other words, we are taking money from people who can make more money and giving it to people who can't. We are reducing the tax base even more so than just taking the money.

The other side of the equation is spending. One way to balance a budget is to spend less.

* Eliminating corporate subsidies and welfare. I already mentioned this, but this is the same as burning money. The people won't go hungry - there are more than enough programs and shelters and charitable people who would love to feed these people (myself included.) I will gladly promise to do my part in helping the poor if government would stop competing with me.

* Reducing responsibility and thus spending. The government should be doing less and thus need less money to operate. By reducing the ambitions of government, and thus reducing the costs of government, we are lowering the amount of money needed to balance the budget.

As the amount of money spent decreases, and as the tax base increases, eventually the two will meet. If we played our cards right (IE, encouraging tax base growth), we can have a balanced budget with a low tax rate. A little deficit now is nothing to worry about because the economy and the tax base grows faster than the interest rate on our debts.

I want to revisit the point that really rich people are better than kinda rich people in our nation. Let's imagine these two scenarios:

(1) We have a low tax rate. Rich people keep a lot more of their money and they get really, really rich. We have thousands of multi-billionaires who have more money than they know what to do with.

(2) We have a high tax rate. The rich are only kindof rich. Maybe one or two people are billionaires, on we only have a few more multi-millionaries.

Would you rather have 50% of a million dollars, or 10% of a billion? Let's do the math:

50% * 1,000,000 = 500,000
10% * 1,000,000,000 = 100,000,000 = 200 times 50% * 1,000,000

Obviously, having a huge tax base with a low tax rate is far superior to a small tax base with a high tax rate.

Republicans

Journal: Prediction: Bush win

Journal by jgardn

Bush has been climbing in the polls, despite the intense pressure the democrats have been exerting since last year. What is the secret of his success? Why is he doing so well despite such a coordinated effort to tarnish his record?

Quite simply, the democrats do more to drive the republicans than the republicans do. More than one republican has told me that they are voting for Bush not only because he is a good guy, but because the democrats have to be stopped.

I see unprecedented participation on the ground in this election. As for myself, I spent 8 glorious hours treading cement to spread the word about Bush and the GOP. I was quite well received. Sure, there were a few vehement anti-Bush Kerry-ites. But the majority of those I met with liked Bush and his policies.

The other reason Bush will win because of the GOTV effort. GOTV stands for "Get Out the Vote". It is a coordinated campaign to target exclusively republican voters and get them to show up at the polls. Here's a dirty little secret: There are more republicans who don't vote than democrats that do. This is the 6th year of the GOTV coordination, and this year, it is so precisely coordinated that in my precinct alone (of about 100 actual voters) 40 republicans are turning out for the first time in a long time. We've been split down the middle since Reagan, and this year, we are going to get a whopping majority.

We didn't do it for the primary, because we didn't want to tip our hat. But we are doing it for the generals. It's already begun.

Kerry will be lucky to take New York and Massachusetts.

If you are a republican, or a conservative, it is important that you hook up with you local party immediately and ask what you can do. There are phone calls to be made, doors to be knocked on, and parties to attend. This year is the year of Bush, and the end of the democrats.

User Journal

Journal: Does jamie mod his own posts? 8

Journal by John Harrison
In this journal entry pudge and jamie trade barbs as usual. I don't agree with much of what pudge says, but I think his positions are well thought out and well explained. He also is actually willing to point out when Republicans lie! Shocking I know.

I modded two of jamie's posts in this journal entry. I hit this one with a troll mod and this one with a flamebait mod. You tell me if the mods were fair. I did them mostly because I don't think jamie is able to present a point in a civil manner.

I look at the discussion tonight and suddenly those two posts, and only those two posts are modded as informative and insightful. Tell me if either of those mods are fair. Interestingly only three of the 54 posts under that journal have been modded at all. Those that I (and jamie?) modded and one other. How likely is it that jamie modded his own posts back up?

Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it. -- William Buckley

Working...